Old-time rockers got a boost from today's chart toppers as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Aerosmith, Queen, Steely Dan and other music legends — including Michael Jackson and Paul Simon for the second time.
All-star jams always highlight the induction ceremonies, and this year's lineup didn't disappoint. Kid Rock took the stage with Aerosmith and David Grohl of the Foo Fighters sang with Queen.
The reclusive Jackson, hobbled by a broken leg, made a rare public appearance. "They're won't be any moonwalking tonight," he said, dressed in a white tuxedo with gold buttons. He made it to the podium with the help of a cane. The second-time inductee was honored as a solo artist. In 1997, the hall honored the Jackson Five.
An edited version of the event is being broadcast tonight on VH1 at 9 p.m. ET.
Simon Waxes Nostalgic
The 16th annual event, at New York City's Waldorf-Astoria, got downright emotional when Simon made his acceptance speech, tracing his influences through such notables as Fats Domino and Carl Perkins and finally reaching out to his estranged ex-partner Art Garfunkel.
As a duo, Simon and Garfunkel were inducted in 1990. But the two who harmonized so famously have been at odds for years.
"I regret the ending of our friendship," said Simon. "But I hope that one day before we die, we'll make peace with one another," then adding as a joke, "no rush."
Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, died of AIDS in 1991. But the surviving members of group performed their anthem "We Will Rock You" with Brian May taking the vocals. The Foo Fighters' singer Grohl, and drummer Taylor Hawkins joined them for "Tie Your Mother Down."
"Queen were my first concert and every concert since has been a bit of a letdown," said Hawkins.
Mercury's mother, Jer Bulsara, proudly accepted his award, shaking the statue in the air when taking the stage.
Another young rocker to tip his cap, Kid Rock called Aerosmith "the best rock band in American history."
Leader Steven Tyler had one question about the honor: "I wonder if this will put an end to [people asking] 'Hey, aren't you Mick Jagger?'"
Q & A From Steely Dan
Steely Dan, fresh off the Grammy-winning success of the duo's latest album, Two Against Nature, opted to turn their induction speech into a question and answer session with the tuxedo-clad audience. One questioner asked Walter Becker when the group would tour again. "That's a tough one," he said. "Has anyone got another question?"
Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, wearing a black sequined outfit, paid tribute to sidemen and session players not often recognized for their contributions. He inducted Elvis Presley's longtime guitarist James Burton and Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Berry's piano player. "If you're not mentioned it means you did your job really well," said Richards.
Johnson is often cited as the inspiration of the Berry classic "Johnny B. Goode." Richards is credited with reviving Johnson's career after finding the musician working as a bus driver in St. Louis in 1986.
"This is the proudest moment of my life," said Johnson, while receiving a standing ovation.
The evening was capped off with a 40-minute all-star jam including U2's Bono, Mary J. Blige and Melissa Etheridge taking on Jamaican accents for a Bob Marley medley. They were honoring Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, inducted as a non-performer. Island was home to Marley and U2 through most of their careers.
Kid Rock got a fashion loan from soul singer Solomon Burke, another inductee, in the last of the jams.
Burke had the most flamboyant outfit of the night — a gold vest topped by a red smoking jacket and a blue robe with gold trim. He loaned the blue coat to Kid Rock while the two traded vocals in "Everybody Needs Somebody," backed by Richards and members of Aerosmith.